Fifteen months ago it was all doom and gloom as a Sea Launch rocket exploded after take-off and destroyed a valuable Intelsat craft. Late on May 26th it was a very different story when a flawless launch lifted the near-6 tonnes Eutelsat 3B into its transfer orbit, and on its way to operate from 3 degrees East.
Both Eutelsat and Sea Launch will be well satisfied with the mission. For Eutelsat it will mean extra business once in-orbit testing is wrapped and the craft is correctly in position. It will be ready for business by July and offering 51 transponders of extra capacity to clients stretching from Brazil to Central Asia.
But for Sea Launch it represented a clean bill of health and a welcome return to the small flock of launch providers. Sea Launch used a Russian-Ukrainian Zenith 3SL rocket with a Block DM upper stage. The rival Proton/Block DM combination is currently suspended from launching while an investigation takes place into a recent failure.
Sea Launch says it could have another launch later this year.